How To: Taking Notes at Conferences and Events

Today it is cold and rainy and I am dreaming of being at CRMUG Summit in Phoenix in just a few weeks. This makes me think of all the things I will be learning! When I first started attending conferences the amount of content was overwhelming. Then I would get back to the office and have no way to organize it in my mind or notes so everything would get lost and forgotten in the shuffle.

So here are my steps for taking successful notes:

Find the Right Tool

I like to use OneNote for taking notes because I can easily sync this between my devices. I can have my Surface at the event and then when I login at work I can quickly find and search for things quickly.

I am the type of person who needs to write things down to remember them. So I prefer to take handwritten notes and lock things in my mind. However, I realized that doing this at a big event means you leave with a notebook full of content that is difficult to search and share. The benefit of typing outweighs my desire to hand write everything because if I can’t remember I can search for it!

Another cool tool to look at it Microsoft Lens. This is a phone app that lets you take better pictures of presentations. I use this if there is a particular slide I want to remember or share on social media.

Download the Presentation in Advance

When I am listening to a presentation I want to remember everything! I don’t always have time to pick and choose what I think will be valuable in my life. To save some time, I try to download the presentation before the session begins. At Summit, I will usually be online and finding the session right before the session starts or during the introduction.

I will download the PowerPoint then copy the slides into my OneNote. You can do this by selecting all the slides (in the left slide navigation area) and then just pasting in to OneNote. If the presenter uses a PDF instead you can use the PDF Printing to print to OneNote to achieve the same effect.

Once the slides are in my OneNote, I will type any additional notes right beside the slide. This helps get my focus off of just writing down everything I see and actually start listening so I can ask valuable questions.

If the slides are not available before the presentation, then I still try to write as much down as I can. Even if the presenter plans to upload the slides, it is very possible that I will forget to download and save them.

Take Time to Review

Finally, make sure you plan time to review these notes. As the sessions are going on, if I see something particularly interesting I will highlight it and/or include extra notes for how this could apply in my organization. After the session, I like to read through all the notes to highlight my top takeaways. This helps secure the general information in my mind and can help me quickly find the big items later. 

I hope this helps as you prepare for D365 Saturday DC and CRMUG Summit! What additional note taking tips am I missing?

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